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NEPA Assessment & Compliance

Partner provides National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) checklists, reviews, assessments and compliance services for lenders administering federal programs under HUD, the US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the telecommunications and solar industries, and other Federally funded or permitted projects. Partner is adept at navigating the NEPA assessment process and evaluating the effects of a proposed action or project in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

What does a NEPA Assessment include?

The NEPA compliance process is aimed at evaluating the potential effects on natural and cultural resources of a proposed federal government “action,” as well as possible alternatives to that action. NEPA checklists and assessments look at a range of areas that could be potentially impacted by a government action such as:

  • Designated wilderness areas and wildlife preserves
  • Threatened or endangered species and critical habitats
  • Historic preservation and Native American religious sites
  • Floodplain management
  • Wetland protection
  • Wild and scenic rivers
  • Coastal zone management
  • Sole source aquifers
  • Air quality
  • Farmland protection
  • Environmental justice
  • Noise abatement and control
  • High intensity lights in residential neighborhoods
  • Toxic, hazardous and/or radioactive materials, contamination, chemicals or gases
  • Siting of HUD assisted projects near hazardous operations
  • Airport clear zones and accident protection zones

The NEPA compliance process consists of several phases, the first of which is to determine whether the action falls into a “categorical exclusion” for which no further review or a limited review is required. Partner also provides related services including Cultural Resource (architectural and archeological) Surveys; Wetland Surveys; and Biological Evaluations.

If the action or project does not fall under a categorical exclusion, then further review may be required to satisfy NEPA, potentially including an Environmental Assessment. An Environmental Assessment (EA) further examines the potential effects of the federal action as well as the significance of such effects.

A further step is a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which is a comprehensive analysis of the potential impacts and their significance.

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Frequently Asked Questions

NEPA compliance is required for a wide range of federal actions, including:
Construction of highways, bridges, and other transportation projects
Approval of permits for energy development, mining, and other resource extraction activities
Land management decisions on federal lands
Adoption of federal regulations, policies, and programs
Approval of federal funding for projects undertaken by state or local governments or private entities if federal funding or permits are involved.

NEPA requires federal agencies to provide opportunities for public involvement and input throughout the NEPA process, including scoping, preparation of environmental documents (EIS or EA), and review and comment periods. Agencies must consider public comments and concerns in their decision-making process.

There are three main categories:
Categorical Exclusion (CX): Applies to actions with minimal environmental impact. No further NEPA documentation is required.
Environmental Assessment (EA): A concise document assessing potential environmental impacts. May lead to a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) or an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS): A detailed document analyzing potential environmental impacts, alternatives, and mitigation measures.

Non-compliance with NEPA can result in legal challenges, project delays, injunctions, and court orders requiring agencies to prepare adequate environmental documentation or reconsider their decisions. It can also undermine public trust, lead to negative public perceptions, and result in project cancellations or modifications. Compliance with NEPA is essential to ensure that federal actions are environmentally responsible and legally defensible.

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